Sacramento Area Hearing Aid Centers (888) 490-0056
Hearing Loss Basics
Got Hearing Loss?
60% of people with hearing loss
are under retirement age
If you (or someone you care about) are experiencing a gradual hearing loss, it can be confusing, frustrating and not what you would expect. Most hearing losses do not happen suddenly, nor do they leave you completely deaf.
Instead, most hearing loss occurs slowly, over time. As you gradually loose parts of your hearing, certain letters in words start to fade. People seem to mumble more frequently. Conversations become increasingly difficult to follow. You hear but have trouble understanding …especially in background noise.
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.
Hearing loss is on the rise in America. One in ten Americans has a significant hearing loss. 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 suffers from gradual hearing loss. More baby-boomers (1 in 6) have hearing and clarity problems than people over that age of 70. But the fastest growing rate of hearing loss occurs in people under the age of 30. In fact, 1 in 5 teenagers is already showing signs of hearing deterioration. Hearing loss is no longer a sign of old age. Hearing loss affects people at all stages of life and it still remains one of the most misunderstood problems facing more than 36 million Americans today.
“If you’d stop mumbling, I’d hear you just fine!”
Have you heard that before? Perhaps you’ve even said it, yourself, a few too many times.
At Avalon, we understand how frustrating that comment can be, whether you’re the one making it (and everyone seems to be mumbling) or you’re the one hearing it (and someone you love thinks you’re mumbling)!
For most people, it’s the high frequency hearing that deteriorates first. You may have normal hearing for low-pitched sounds (such as the vowel sounds) but have a considerable loss for high-pitched speech sounds such as t, f, s, k and th.
But you say you hear fine. In fact, you hear what you want to hear. You just don’t catch all the words. Other than having slight difficulty in noisy settings or hearing people with really soft voices, (high-pitched females and small children) you hear ‘well enough’. If people would only stop mumbling, everything would be fine. Right??? Wrong.
As one’s hearing slowly worsens, the eyes and brain begin to compensate for the deficit. In fact, you only need to hear about 25% of speech sounds in order to understand speech. The other 75% of speech sounds can be inaudible, and you can still get the drift of the conversation. With the help of the eyes, the brain pieces together the missing information, trying to make sense of the conversation. And the human brain is an amazing thing. It actually consumes enough power to burn a 20-watt light bulb, and even more when you are forced to work hard. But working hard to follow a conversation gets tiring.
Hearing Loss Affects Relationships
In essence, hearing and understanding in noise requires extra processing from the brain. When the brain is fed sufficient information, it can separate the speech signal from the noise signal. It gives us automatic noise suppression with little conscious effort. By the way, you need both of your ears working together in stereo to do this. A person with a high frequency hearing loss cannot hear these sounds and therefore, has little or no information to piece together. Their brain simply does not receive enough information to put the conversation together, regardless of how smart or how hard one tries.
The person who “hears what he wants to hear” is probably using all his available brain power on listening. It is not likely that he will be able to exert that much effort for long. Most people check out of a conversation within ten minutes. (By the way, this is true for people with normal hearing also! We all get resigned about missing parts of the conversation so we rationalize it’s not worth listening.) After straining for a while, you simply give up because it’s exhausting.
Believe it or not, a seemingly minor hearing loss is the most insidious of all losses. While hearing gradually deteriorates, so can your relationships and psychological well-being. Untreated hearing loss affects every aspect of your life: social, emotional, mental and even physical. It can be socially debilitating and emotionally painful.
The first step is to have a thorough hearing evaluation to find out what you have been missing. At Avalon Hearing, our Free EDUCATIONAL Hearing Test goes far beyond the normal testing protocol used in most offices. We take the time to do extensive speech testing including a “Speech-In-Noise” test to determine how well you could hear in a noisy place such as a restaurant with the right hearing help. This test will reveal a lot to you. It serves no purpose to put this off. Waiting to get help for your hearing may be detrimental to follow-up rehabilitation.
Today, most hearing and clarity problems can be helped. Properly fit hearing instruments made especially for high frequency hearing loss make speech sounds more audible, reducing the power drain on your brain. With some brain power left over, you are more likely to enjoy conversation. That extra power could be used to enjoy life, not to decipher chopped up speech sounds.
The important thing to remember is not to wait until your hearing gets worse.
By the time you perceive that your hearing is bad enough,
you will have waited too long for your own good.